Winning is a piece of cake for Muriel
Most people would see producing a single well baked cake as a successful baking session.
For champion baker Muriel Hobson, that figure is more likely to be around 25, as evidenced be yet another succesful year at various local agricultural shows in including Tinahely, Carnew and Tullow.
A residnet of Hacketstown, Muriel is a regular at many shows in Wicklow and Wexford and recently picked up the John Nolan Cup in Tinahely for the 20th consecutive year.
'It is the 20th time I have won it. It goes on points so the person who gets the most points from all the cookery classes also wins the cup,' Muriel explains.
'I enter as many as I can, mostly in baking as that is what I enjoy the most,' she adds.
Baking has been an important part of Muriel's life for many years and is a hobby that she loves to improve with every competition.
'I have a lot of cakes that I bake regularly like fruit cakes, Oxford lunch, Madeira, Dundee cake, apple tart and that sort of thing. I also like to challenge myself and do something new that I haven't entered before. This year I made health bars with oats, seeds and cranberries and I got second place for those. The judges gave me some good feedback so I was delighted,' Muriel says.
Muriel is no slouch when it comes to getting her entries perfected and admits that coming up to any show day her kitchen can be a pretty stressful place.
'As I work Monday to Thursday it can be hectic enough on the days leading up to the show as there is an awful lot to be done. I also have to pay attention to the presentation and make sure that everything it presented well as this is important for the judges,' she adds.
With three All-Ireland championships under her belt, there is no doubting Muriel's ability, yet she says there is always room for improvement.
'I love learning new skills and the shows are great places to pick tips and inspiration from talking to other bakers and seeing everything on display. There are wonderful smaller shows around as well like Carnew which I regularly enter. They are a great platform for competitors to proceed to All-Irelands,' Muriel exlains.
In fact, Muriel has also won an overall prize at the Tullow Show for eleven years in a row.
She gets great support from her family and has passed on her love of baking to her daughter Gillian.
'Gillian is a keen baker also and won an All-Ireland years ago in Tullamore when she was only 16. This was a great achievement as she was up against adults with years of experience. She is very talented.'
Muriel loves testing her own recipes but when she also looks to her baking heroes for inspiration. 'I'm a big fan of Catherine Leydon from Odlums. She never fails and her recipes are great.'